So maybe you have a drone but aren’t sure where to go to take photos or shoot video. It may seem like you need to travel somewhere beautiful to capture content like the stuff you see online. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true and provide you with a few simple tips for shooting with your drone.
I have been shooting my own personal aerial photos for almost four years now. From that, I can say that I’ve been through my fair share of experiences, all of which helped me improve over time. Planning may be one of the most important things when it comes to taking the aerial photos you want. A lot of the stuff I shoot is mapped out thoroughly so I can plan days and times to shoot what I have in mind. But how can we find a good place for shooting aerial photos?
Every time I shoot something for my own personal work, it has to be something that has meaning to me. I either have an interest in the location, an idea, a concept, or something I just feel the need to create. Water, railroads, textures, seasons, tennis courts, and so many other things have caught my attention over the years.
Whenever I go out to a location to shoot, I always make sure I pay attention to the composition lighting, time of day, colors, look, and all that jazz. Once the photo is captured the way I like it, the editing becomes a process of its own as the idea is brought to life. The point of this process is to visualize the photo before you take it.
Planning a location
Location is super-important for me when it comes to shooting with the drone. I always want to make sure a spot is worth it, so I constantly search Google Maps for different places. I simply pin them and then save them to a list on Google Maps. I can see them on both my computer and phone, which makes it convenient. All I have to do is get in the car, open maps, tap my spot, and drive there.
Finding a good location is key to taking good aerial photos. You don’t have to find a perfect location to create great images, but it does help. If you look hard enough on the satellite view, you’d be surprised what you can find in your area.
One tip I have for everyone flying is to arrive at your location early and get a flight in beforehand to scout the location and get a few test shots. I typically shoot during sunset, so I tend to fly before that golden hour to see what I want to capture when the light is where I want it to be.
These few locations had some stuff that looked interesting to me on Google Maps, so I set out to shoot them with my expectations of how they would look. I chose to shoot this location during the fall season for the colors, but finding the island was my mission before making this a destination. If Google Maps becomes a primary method of finding locations for you, as it has for me, run with it.
Shot on Mavic 2 Pro
Know what to expect if you are going to travel. You can wing it if you want, but the outcome may not be as good. This technique can help you find places anywhere in the world. Over the years, I have become pickier than ever with my work, so I like to make sure that if I travel somewhere, I can make that trip worth it for my drones and me.
To save a location on maps, tap and hold down on your desired location, hit save, and add it to whatever list you’d like. I personally go by states here in the US, but may find something even easier down the road. When you go to open this list on your phone, just make sure you are signed into the same account you are on the computer, and everything should link up. I find Google Maps to be my favorite, and after doing this a few times, I promise it will get easier.
Weather impacts aerial photos
Weather is absolutely essential to check. This could make or break the shoot, and when you travel a solid distance only to find out that you can’t fly, you may be pretty disappointed. Remember, this is 100% your fault, because all you had to do was check the weather.
Take a quick look at the location you want to travel to, as the weather at that location may be different than the weather you are in. I have had a few instances where I left it to chance, and Mother Nature walked home with the win.
If the weather is bad and you know it may be too risky to fly, please don’t chance it. Shooting with your drone in bad weather can be tempting, but losing your drone is not a fun thing, especially when you know you didn’t have to be flying in the conditions you were in. Always better to be safe than sorry, so use your best judgment before going out to fly.
Check the airspace
It is important to follow the rules as much as you can when flying. I have had instances where I find a cool place to shoot, and the next thing I know I see there’s an airport nearby. Depending on what you are doing and the urgency of it, you can work around these things legally, but if you are going out to fly on your own and don’t want any trouble, just make sure you’re in the clear.
A couple of good apps to check out are the FAA’s B4UFLy app, UASideKick, and Kitty Hawk, but there are several others out there as well that help drone pilots know where they can and can’t fly.
Go crazy with your map! Google literally gives you a perfect idea of what to expect when you go out to shoot. Shooting with your drone is going to become more than just driving somewhere and winging it.
For me, this has become a process for my aerial work and a lot of my other work as well. The more you fly, the more practice you get, the more you create, the better off you are. You’ll find your style and start to create content that means something to you.
Safe flying to everybody out there, and I hope this article helps out a bit. Feel free to share any drone photography tips that I didn’t mention in the comments!